Lighting For Plants
Unlike other organisms that derive their energy from consuming organic material, plants obtain their energy from sunlight and atmospheric carbon dioxide. Sunlight provides a natural energy source which plants are able to harness through special cells in their leaves. The energy of sunlight is used to break down carbon dioxide and water, which can then be used to create glucose, a form of sugar, or storable energy. This process is called photosynthesis, and without it, complex life could have never evolved on Earth. Providing light in the aquarium is relatively simple but plants will do best under certain types of light. The spectrum, intensity and duration of light all affect plant growth in the aquarium.
The photosynthetic processAs mentioned above, light is vital for plants to carry out photosynthesis, the production of energy, or food, using sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. The rate of photosynthesis is closely connected to a plants growth rate and ability to repair and reproduce. Providing other factors such as nutrient supply and environmental conditions are good, a plants rate of photosynthesis is directly proportional to the amount of light the plant receives. At low light levels, a plant may be unable to photosynthesis at a suitable rate, which results in slow growth and sometimes ill health. Light can be considered as a source of 'food' for the plants. Temperature also affects photosynthesis; a higher temperature increases photosynthesis whilst a cooler temperature will cause a decrease. However, an increase in the aquariums lighting and temperature will only benefit plants if they are able to obtain a suitable amount of nutrients and carbon dioxide. Therefore, if plants are not doing well in the aquarium, an increase in lighting may not always be the answer.
A single fluorescent tube lights most aquariums, in shallow (30cm or less) aquariums this may be sufficient for some plants. In most cases however, more lighting may be needed. The type of light is equally important as the amount of light.